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Families line up at Ken-Ton Closet to collect for their kids

Posted at 5:57 AM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 06:51:58-05

For the past four 4 years Jill O’Malley and her team of volunteers at Ken-Ton Closet have been doing their part to help their immediate community - residents living the in the village of Kenmore and Town of Tonawanda - providing free clothes for kids in need.

Ken-Ton Closet, a non-profit, volunteer run, donation-based organization has clothed over 700 kids, ranging from newborns to 18-year-olds. 

It’s a mission that started out of basic need, O’Malley said.

“As I a mom I noticed kids at my kids’ schools and others in need of coats. I knew something had to be done. We started collecting at one school, after that I made a few phone calls and people have been on board ever since,” she told me.

With a very small budget, the organization has relied heavily on gently used donations from the community - from clothing and shoes for girls and boys to school supplies, toys, and seasonal accessories. Even diapers and baby necessities - you name it, they're doing their best to provide it.

The only requirement? That you currently live in either Kenmore or Tonawanda, that’s it. 

“We only ask for the parents names, we don’t ask for the kids. Every Tuesday and Thursday, every other month, families can shop for what they need. Yes - we have limits, but the more we get, the more we’re able to give, it’s that simple,” O’Malley emphasized.

Jeysi LaTorres and her family, including 3 kids, have been relying on Ken-Ton Closet since moving to Western New York from Puerto Rico 3 years ago. 

“I have 3 kids and for them the transition was tough. We came here for a specific reason and knew very few people and had very few things. Once I learned about the Closet, I came. My daughter was so excited to be able to shop, wear beautiful things to school, I noticed.a difference in them,” LaTorres said.

The LaTorres family, like others, aren’t alone in their need for help - especially as the temperatures drop.

The need for warm clothing, new socks and undergarments is in high demand. 

“These are the things that cost the most and yet these are what we hear our kids really need,” O’ Malley said. 

This year, for the first time ever, Ken-Ton Closet received bi-partisian financial support from two legislators in the Ken-Ton district. A total of $8,000 was donated to help the organization purchase items they otherwise could have only dreamed of. 

“We have surveillance cameras now, locks for our donation boxes, things we needed as the initiative started to grow, I couldn’t be more grateful to see our leaders stepping up, putting differences aside to recognize our children come first,” O’Malley expressed.

Moving into the 2018 season, their Wish List includes more items for babies - from diapers and wipes, to clothing, and much more.

For more on Ken-Ton Closet's donation sites and their Wish Lists, visit their website